Actor, director, producer and Igbo chieftain, Forest Whitaker, is a native of Longview, Texas. He played defensive tackle in high school which he was later granted an athletic scholarship to play at Cal Poly Pomona. He later transferred to University of Southern California where he excelled in the performing arts. He debuted on the big screen at the age of 21 in the comedy, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” where he played Charles Jefferson, as what? A football player. However, his acting talents bum rushed him on his cinematic journey staring in films, such as, “North and South”, “Platoon”, “Good Morning Vietnam”, and Clint Eastwood’s directorial project of the life and career of jazz legend Charlie “Bird” Parker, “Bird”, a film for which he won the Cannes Film Festival award for best actor and a Golden Globe nomination.
His repertoire of the characters he has played in later films is quite colorful. Among them were a kidnapped British soldier with a questionable sexual preference in the “Crying Game”, a gay fashion designer in “Ready to Wear”, a geeky alien hunter in “Species”, and a mafia hit man who follows the codes of the Samurai warrior in “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”. He started his creative ventures behind the camera by starring and co-producing the movie, “Rage in Harlem”, with Gregory Hines and Robin Givens, and made his successful directorial debut in the national black woman’s theme movie, “Waiting to Exhale”, starring Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. A few of his most recent and more notable works include, “The Last King of Scotland” where he plays the brutal Ugandan president, Idi Amin, a role for which he won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in 2007, “The Great Debaters”, “Vantage Point” and “Where the Wild Things Are” as the voice of Ira. Included in his upcoming works are, “Repo Men” with Liev Schreiber, “My Own Love Song” with Renee Zellweger, “The Experiment” with Twilight’s, Cam Gigandet.
Aside from being married to the beautiful former model, Keisha Whitaker and the father of four adorable children, he created his own multimedia company, Spirit Dance Entertainment, which produced movies such as , “The First Daughter” and the 2002 Emmy Award winning film, “Door to Door”. Forest was given a star on the Hollywood Walk in April of 2007. Forest Whitaker, has done extensive humanitarian work, he has been involved with organizations like, Penny Lane, an organization that provides assistance to abused teenagers. PETA and Farm Sanctuary are organizations that protect animals' rights. During the last couple of years, he has become a spokesperson for Hope North Ugandan orphanage and Human Rights Watch. Oh yeah, if you were ever wondering about that suspicious looking eye, it is a condition that is called ptosis or drooping eyelid. Whitaker has considered corrective surgery, not for cosmetic reasons but because it is affecting his sight. “Put a li’l bit of that barbeque sauce on dat eye and wake it up!” (Mike Epps, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) And yes, through genetic DNA testing, Whitaker traced his roots back to the Nkwere people of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria and was honored with the chieftain title at the African Movie Academy Awards. Let’s Hear It For The Honorable Igbo Chieftain, Nwannedinamba of Nkwerre, (which means, A Brother in a Foreign Land). You are the Soul of Cinema Star of October!